Jan de Hartog

Playwright, novelist

Jan de Hartog, author of Broadway hit and Tony winner “The Fourposter” as well as other plays and novels that became films, died Sunday Sept. 22 in Houston, where he had lived for many years. He was 88.

Besides “The Fourposter,” other of his works made into films include “The Spiral Road” (with Rock Hudson), “The Inspector” (filmed as “Lisa”), “Stella” (“The Key” with Sophia Loren and William Holden) and “The Little Ark.”

He got the theater bug in the 1930s at the Amsterdam Municipal Theater, acting and writing a play. But as a boy he had run off to sea and pursued the life of a sailor, but along the way began to write. Novels (including some under pen name F.R. Eckmar) included detective stories; bestseller “Holland’s Glory,” which the Nazis saw as catering to the Dutch resistance, which he had joined and so pursued de Hartog; “The Fourposter,” which he wrote while in hiding; and “The Escape,” about his exodus to England.

He switched to English for novel “The Lost Sea” and followed with “The Distant Shore,” “A Sailor’s Life,” “The Captain,” “The Children,” “The Peaceable Kingdom” and his last novel, “The Outer Buoy” (1994).

His first U.S. play, “This Time Tomorrow,” opened on Broadway in 1947, followed by “Skipper Next to God,” starring John Garfield, and then “The Fourposter,” which won the 1951 Tony for best new play and originally starred Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn, directed by Jose Ferrer. Two-hander later became the film starring Rex Harrison and Lilli Palmer, and still later the Tom Jones/Harvey Schmidt tooner “I Do! I Do!,” starring Mary Martin and Robert Preston.

He also wrote nonfiction “The Hospital” (1964), exposing medical conditions in the Houston hospital where he volunteered.

He is survived by his longtime third wife Marjorie and six children.

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